Faculty of manga Gag Manga Course

Gag Manga Course

The only place in Japan cultivating comedic “genius” in manga

The goal of a joke is to make people laugh. But there is no other form of creative expression that needs a higher sensibility or better technique than comedy. The Gag Manga Course cultivates this comedic “genius.”

Styles of gag manga vary, from slapstick to the absurd, from parody to the therapeutic, or ironic micro-observations about everyday life. What is it that makes people laugh? And how do you express it? Gag Manga classes exhaustively train the ability to conceive of ideas—the life and blood of gag manga—and to attain sensibility. Acquiring the sensibility and skill to come up with unconventional ideas that challenge common sense and values, or playing with the timing of conversations, and illustrating characters’ emotions and motions, the course features opportunities to research all kinds of comedy, and trains students to come up with jokes no one else has created before. Students also learn to draw manga from Manzai standup and comedy sketch scripts, and research joke forms in Ogiri and comedy films.

Gag manga is classic manga, as the whole medium started out as something intended to make people laugh. Leading manga authors such as Osamu Tezuka created gag manga, and you too can create serious stories as well as terrifying horror stories if you can manipulate “laughter” freely. SEIKA is waiting for the genius-in-the-making who has a passion to make people laugh.

Four Years in the Gag Manga Course

  • 1st Year

    “Laughter” starts from the unconventional

    There are no rules in gag manga other than the most valuable thing, to make people laugh. What is necessary for gag manga is having the sensibility and skills to come up with unconventional ideas. In order for students to do that, they first need to understand what “common sense” is, because without knowing this, they cannot then find the comedic kernels where they can subvert readers’ expectations or turn values on their head.

    The first year sees students accumulating culture by coming into contact with diverse genres of work, not just manga but also novels and films. Coursework includes reconstructing the “laughter” of different creative means in manga. How do you express the timing, the way of talking, and synchronization of Manzai standup or comedy sketch scripts in manga? Students explore these questions while extracting the elements of laughter from the classics and from literature, and then create parodies. Making four-cell manga and eight page short manga stories based on prior works, students attain skills in shaping the comic into concrete form.

    To create gag manga requires the ability to draw “pictures that make you laugh.” By drawing all kinds of pictures, not just manga but also sketching and croquis, students build their foundational ability to draw comical pictures. Four years in pursuit of “laughter” starts from culture and drawing ability, the foundations of gag manga.

    1st year
    1st Year Goals
    Understanding the ridiculous by understanding common sense. Training the ability to make people laugh, as well as basic drawing ability.
  • 2nd Year

    All manner of techniques to make people laugh

    Second-year students go further in learning about the structure of comedy and developing how to shape “laughter” into form, acquiring the methods to make people laugh through narrative. In comedy people laugh due to the storyline, as opposed to gag manga, which makes people laugh instantaneously. Classes on the history of manga look at general comic art, in addition to comedy manga, allowing students to study story composition. Students then simultaneously practice making stories, including planning and creating a storyboard.

    In drawing classes, students develop techniques for drawing lines distinctive to manga, such as those showing motion or other effects, and learn how to use them according to different scenarios. While cultivating the ability to compose stories as well as their drawing skills, both indispensable for manga artists, students complete 16-24—page manga under the guidance of professors who are themselves leading gag manga artists. Beyond magazines and comic books, today the portals for releasing manga have broadened to include such formats as social media and video-sharing websites, and new models are continuously being introduced. Upcoming artists need to be able to release and publish their work in a way that can utilize all kinds of different media forms. Students begin planning projects for the Gag Manga Course official website, preparing to operate the website and produce publications in third year.

    2nd year
    2nd Year Goals
    Acquiring the ability to make people laugh through stories, polishing planning abilities as well as digital skills for releasing work online.
  • 3rd Year

    How to make people laugh through your work

    Third year students start running the Gag Manga Course official website, as planned during the previous year. By releasing content produced in class to the world, such as manga, scripts, and video, students experience professional creativity that is aware of the eyes of the reader. The course features unique guest speakers who are all comedy professionals, gag manga artists or Rakugo comedic storytellers, organizing workshop-style lectures. Students cultivate the way of thinking necessary for becoming professional artists.

    Third year students also start preparing for their graduation projects. How do you convey to readers a “funny” idea, discovered through classes and coursework? Students explore individual approaches to comedy via various forms of creative expression, including gag manga, comedy scripts, Manzai standup comedy, and cinema.

    3rd year
    3rd Year Goals
    Aiming to achieve creativity that is aware of the eyes of the reader. Exploring and selecting your individual style from a variety of comedic expression.
  • 4th Year

    How would you convey a “gag”?

    Based on their search for the comedic during the four years of study, students now complete their graduation projects. Looking ahead to the future, students engage with individual graduation projects under the guidance of teaching staff who are active gag manga artists and editors.

    Students express comedy through different types of graduation projects according to each student’s intended career path after graduation, including gag manga and comedy manga, cinema, and scripts for Manzai comedy standup and sketch comedy. Students exhibit graduation projects not only at the graduation exhibition, but also on the Gag Manga Course official website, presenting their work and their own strengths to the world. Simultaneously they create their portfolios that will be necessary when looking for employment.

    As cultivated over the four years, having the ability to come up with ideas that can generate laughter and overturn conventional values, and the ability then to publish their work, will surely open up a wide range of career paths, such as becoming manga artists, TV show writers, or event managers.

    4th year
    4th Year Goals
    Establishing individual comedic expression, creating graduation projects.

Career paths after graduating from the Gag Manga Course

Gag humor is the art of generating laughter by overturning common sense and our ordinary everyday values. It can be widely applied not only in manga but also in other career paths, such as in theater, TV, cinema, and quirky advertising copywriting. Moreover, learning both web production and how to create online content provide students with options of becoming professional web artists in the digital publishing era of the future. The Internet age represents the era of entrepreneurship not employment—we live in a time in which you can create your own occupation.

Career choices

  • Gag manga artists working for comic magazines
  • Manga writers with the ability to conceive ideas and compose stories
  • Scriptwriters or TV writers with skills in comedy
  • New media producers

Other career options

  • TV show writer
  • Advertising producer
  • Copywriter
  • Online content creator
  • TV commercials director
  • Event manager etc.

Gag Manga Course Faculty Members (in Japanese)